Skip to main content

Full text of "Fellini Changing the Subject"

See other formats


Fellini: Changing the Subject 

Frank Burke 

Film Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 1. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 36-48. 

Stable URL: 

htto://links.istor.org/sici?sici=0Q1.5-1386%28198923%2943%3Al%3C36%3AFCTS%3E2.Q.CO%3B2-U 

Film Quarterly is currently published by University of California Press. 



STOR 


Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at 
http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained 
prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in 
the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. 

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at 
http://www.jstor.org/journals/ucal.html . 

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed 
page of such transmission. 


The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic 
journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, 
and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take 
advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. 


http : //WWW . j s tor . org 
Sat Jan 19 15:45:07 2008 




We should suspend the typical ques- 
tions: how does a free subject penetrate 
the density of things and endow them with 
meaning. . . . Rather we should ask: under 
what conditions and through what forms 
can an entity like the subject appear in the 
order of discourse; what position does it 
occupy; what functions does it exhibit 
. . . ? In short, the subject (and its substi- 
tutes) must be stripped of its creative role 
and analysed as a complex and variable 
function of discourse. 

— MICHEL FOUCAULT (118) 


The Author, when believed in, is always 
conceived of as the past of his book . . . 
in the same relation of antecedence as a 
father to his child. In complete contrast, the 
modern scriptor is born simultaneously 
with the text, is in no way equipped with 
a being preceding or exceeding the writ- 
ing, is not subject with the book as 
predicate. . . . 

— R OLAND BARTHES (145) 



Fellini: Entirely positioned within and produced 
by the multiple discourses that are “Roma.” 


Frank Burke 

Fellini: Changing the Subject 


T 


I he career of Federico Fellini offers 
remarkable parallels to the recent history of indi- 
vidualism and the subject, especially in the domain 
of film theory. Particularly evident is the concur- 
rence of Fellini’s reputation and the fate of au- 
teur ism\ 1954 was the year of La Strada and of 
Truffaut’s promulgation of a politique des auteurs', 
1959 saw the shooting of La Dolce Vita and the 
emergence of the French New Wave; 1962-63 
brought 8 1/2 and Andrew Sarris’s influential 
“Notes on the Auteur Theory.’’ 


Without question, Fellini’s reputation benefited 
by an auteurist moment which valorized the film 
director as artist, gave strong impetus to the Euro- 
pean art film movement, and, in so doing, aligned 
itself with the tradition of high modernism in the 
arts — privileging the uniqueness of artistic self- 
expression as an oppositional force in the face of 
industrialized society. 

To some extent, that reputation was sustained 
through the sixties by proliferating auteurism (Sar- 
ris’s book American Film Directors appeared in 


36 


1968), high modernism, and perhaps most impor- 
tant, the romantic individualism of the decade, 
which dovetailed with the media image of Fellini as 
a maverick and genius. 

However, despite Fellini’s continued visibility, 
his critical reputation peaked with 8 1/2, especially 
among academic theorists. From the mid-sixties on, 
that reputation has suffered virtually uninterrupted 
decline. Robert Phillip Kolker is representative 
when he writes in the early eighties that “5 1/2 . . . 
marks the end of [Fellini’s] creative period. ... In 
his following works, Fellini moved into the artifice 
of spectacle, the fantasies of memory, which be- 
came more insular and repetitive as he proceeded” 
(87). More telling than critique is neglect. In the 
600-plus pages of Movies and Methods I, Fellini 
receives one paragraph of discussion. His name 
does not appear once in Movies and Methods II nor 
(as far as I can tell) in Narrative, Apparatus, Ideol- 
ogy: A Film Theory Reader. ' These three anthol- 
ogies delineate with great accuracy the critical and 
theoretical terrain of film studies for the past two 
decades. 

Just as Fellini’s international recognition corre- 
sponded with the rise of auteurism and the Euro- 
pean art film movement, his decline has paralleled 
theirs. The sixties was marked by the structuralist 
and poststructuralist de-centering of the subject, 
the politicization of film theory and practice fol- 
lowing May 1968, and an assault on the high art/ 
mass culture hierarchy of modernism. By the early 
seventies, as the result of ow/eur-structuralism 
(Nowell-Smith, Eckert, Wollen) and post-owtewr- 
ism (Cahiers du cinema. Heath) the auteur was 
killed off as creative artist and resurrected as 
merely one system of codes among many or as the 
radically dispersed effect of ideological gaps and 
contradictions. Dead along the way was the Euro- 
pean art cinema of the “great directors.” 

This is hardly to say that Fellini has been ig- 
nored only because the auteurism of the fifties and 
sixties has dissolved. Some directors, such as Hitch- 
cock and Ford, have been reappropriated by post- 
auteurism because of the psychoanalytic and ideo- 
logical richness of their work. Others, such as Ozu 
and Oshima, have been privileged because of their 
non-Western signifying practices. And, ironically, 
Godard has acquired greater auteur status than ever 
because his politics have been so consistent with 
those of anti- and x>osi-auteurism. Fellini’s decline 


has occurred largely because, in a post-modernist, 
post-romantic, and post-auteur climate, he is seen 
as the embodiment of the purely reactionary. As 
Kolker puts it: 

Fellini slipped back to a melodramatic mode 
... an autobiographical expression . . . with 
history relegated to a backdrop and nostalgia 
elevated above analysis. He returns to a ro- 
manticism that insists that the productions of 
the artist’s life and imagination must be of in- 
terest simply because they are the productions 
of the artist. . . . [T] he neo-realist urge to re- 
veal and question has disappeared beneath an 
irrelevant . . . subjectivity. (87-89) 

For Noel Carroll: “Fellini’s reflexivity only sub- 
serves the propagation of his world view. . . . In- 
deed, one suspects that Fellini’s intrusiveness in 
[The Clowns and Roma] . . . enables him to get 
away with his shameless exploitation of shopworn, 
universalist (clown as man; city as life) imagery” 
(105). 

These critiques are surprisingly subject-centered 
— attacking Fellini for, among other things, autobi- 
ography, nostalgia, subjectivity, world view, and 
insidious motive. Focusing on the reviled auteur, 
they say little about the films themselves. In con- 
junction with the widespread neglect of Fellini’s 
work, they reflect a failure to acknowledge that, 
just as Fellini’s early films formed part of the dis- 
course of a prestructuralist era, his more recent 
films are part of poststructuralist discourse. In fact, 
from 8 1/2 on, Fellini’s films have lent themselves 
to sustained critiques of romantic individualism 
and to a thorough-going revaluation of subjec- 
tivity. His “autobiographical” films, moreover, 
have posited Fellini himself as subject only to dis- 
solve him into other texts, subject positions, and in- 
tersecting discourses. Nowhere is Fellini the auteur 
more dead than in his own work. 

Fellini’s earliest films focus principally on the 
exploits of well defined main characters — whether 
comic (Checco in Variety Lights [1950], Ivan and 
Wand in The White Sheik [1952]), tragic (Zampano 
in La Strada [1954], Augusto in II Bidone [1955]), 
or somewhere in between (Moraldo in / Vitelloni 
[1953], Marcello in La Dolce Vita [1959]). Fellini’s 
emphasis on character is consistent with his oft- 
expressed concern with individuality — especially in 


37 


contrast to what he sees as the collectivity of con- 
ventional existence. 

Self-acceptance can occur only when you’ve 
grasped one fundamental fact of life: that the 
only thing which exists is yourself, your true 
individual self in depth, which wants to grow 
spontaneously, but which is fettered by in- 
operative lies, myths and fantasies proposing 
an unattainable morality or sanctity or perfec- 
tion. . . . (Fellini, Playboy 60) 

Individuality attains its fullest expression in the 
early films with The Nights of Cabiria (1956). 
Cabiria’s film-long struggle for “self-acceptance” 
culminates with an extreme close-up which individ- 
uates her from all else in her world and appears to 
offer striking testimony to Fellini’s conviction that 
“every human being has [her] own irrevocable 
truth, which is authentic and precious and unique 
. . .” (Fellini, Playboy 63).' 

While Fellini’s early films are decidedly individ- 
ualist in emphasis, his comments about individu- 
alism are most intense not during the early period 
but during the making of 8 1/2 and Juliet of the 
Spirits (1965).' This creates an interesting paradox 
because it is precisely with 8 1/2 that I feel we can 
detect a radical change in the nature of characteri- 
zation in Fellini’s films — a process I might term 
“postindividualization.” This process characterizes 
all Fellini’s work from 8 1/2 through Roma (1972) 
but can best be examined in light of the death of 
the author /subject in more recent Fellini films: 
Amarcord (1974) through Intervista (1987). 


Through reproductive technology 
postmodernist art dispenses with the aura. 
The fiction of the creating subject gives 
way to the frank confiscation, quotation, 
excerptation, accumulation and repetition 
of already existing images. Notions of 
originality, authenticity and presence . . . 
are undermined. 

— DOUGLAS CRIMP (53) 

In contrast to nearly all Fellini’s preceding 
films, Amarcord has only an intermittent main 
character, Titta, who does not serve as a center of 
consciousness. He is absent from several episodes, 
some of them quite lengthy. He narrates only one 
— and that for only a moment. And he is supple- 
mented, by several narrators who vary radically in 
articulateness, storytelling motivation, and cred- 
ibility. There is, in short, no unified voice, and 
despite the fact that “amarcord” means “I remem- 
ber, there is no I who remembers. 

Fellini’s Casanova (1976) may seem to offer 
such an “I”: Casanova is both protagonist and pre- 
sumed author of his tale. However, his function as 
narrator is intermittent to the point of virtual ir- 
relevance, he is portrayed as a posturer and syco- 
phant rather than a creative artist, and the world 
he inhabits is one of blatant simulation rather than 
originality. 

Both Amarcord and Fellini’s Casanova, though 
in different ways, fulfil Linda Hutcheon’s descrip- 
tion of point of view in postmodern fiction: “Narra- 
tors in fiction become either disconcertingly multiple 
and hard to locate ... or resolutely provisional 
and limited — often undermining their own seeming 
omniscience” (11). 

The Orchestra Rehearsal (1979) lacks even 
Casanova’^ simulation of individuality, as the or- 
chestra becomes a dominant metaphor for collec- 
tivity. Not only is there no main character, all the 
characters end up defined entirely in terms of their 
musical instruments and, even more restrictively, 
in terms of a piece of music composed by an absent 
(“dead”) author. The conductor, who assumes the 
role of author-ity by film’s end, is no less con- 
structed and determined in his actions than anyone 
else. He is there because every orchestra needs its 
leader. 

Amarcord Orchestra Rehearsal 




City of Women (1980), like Fellini’s Casanova, 
initially seems to offer authorizing human agency: 
Snaporaz as main character, and even more impor- 
tant Marcello as dreamer of the dream. However, 
in a crucial reversal, Marcello is established not as 
source of the dream but as its product. We begin 
in medium somnium, and Marcello only exists as 
a waking individual (briefly) at the very end. (In 
fact there is an implicit distinction drawn between 
“Snaporaz,” the character in the dream, and 
“Marcello” — the “real” character — to whom Sna- 
poraz, in effect, gives birth.) Moreover, the dream, 
like the orchestra, is a determining device, fixing 
Snaporaz/Marcello within the mechanism of the 
unconscious, fuelled by culturally generated projec- 
tions and distortions of “Women.” The culminat- 
ing symbol of the feminine within the dream — an 
absurd Madonna/Soubrette balloon, complete with 
a womblike basket into which Snaporaz crawls — is 
a grotesque conflation of cultural symbology which 
violently undermines any notion of integral imagi- 
nation on the part of its fabricator. (The film’s title 
further underscores the fact that the women repre- 
sented in the dream are not the unique creation of 
a free imagination. They are “always already citi- 
fied” — manmade, socially constructed.) 

And the Ship Sails On (1984) recalls The Or- 
chestra Rehearsal in its use of a musical commu- 
nity — this time operatic — to construct individuals 
in roles. (The ship’s hierarchy also serves as a de- 
termining social structure.) As in The Orchestra 
Rehearsal, characters are determined by dead 
author-ity — in this case Edmea Tetua, whose death 
they are mourning with varying degrees of fervor. 
Moreover, the authority and identity of Tetua (her 
ashes) exist only to be scattered (the goal of the 
opera troupe’s sea voyage). Authority is further un- 
dermined within the film’s narrative structure by 
the arbitrary, sporadic, and quite absurd role of the 
film’s narrator/journalist, Orlando. He himself is 




City of Women: Marcello as dream’s product. 

“scattered” or fragmented, becoming most impor- 
tant as narrator when he loses all capacity to re- 
port. (His narrative voice dominates the last few 
minutes of the film but only in the form of pure 
speculation, as he is forced to compensate with 
mere hypotheses for his absence from all the final 
crucial events aboard the ship.) The split within 
Orlando highlights the interplay between fiction 
and history throughout And the Ship Sails On, as 
the film blatantly fictionalizes the sinking of the 
Lusitania and the outbreak of World War I. This 
interplay undercuts the authority of artist (Fellini) 
as well as historian (journalist/narrator), for the 
fictionality of the film cannot escape the discourse 
of history, and the historically “real” cannot es- 
cape the discourse of fiction. Put another way, the 
film’s fictionality reflects the journalist’s “pure 
speculation” at the end: both are conditioned by 
actual events, without deriving any authority from 
them. In addition, there is no position outside the 
ceaseless play and mutual determination of fact and 
fiction from which a text, artist, or commentator 
can be author-ized. 

Ginger and Fred (1986) — both the title and the 
film — promise then withhold individuality. While 
the title offers us two personal names which imply 
differentiated figures, those figures are named after 
other figures who themselves adopted stage names.* 
Moreover, Ginger and Fred have been virtually 
reinvented by television to come to Rome and imi- 
tate their past imitations of Astaire and Rogers. 
The world of Ginger and Fred is one of endless 
replication, of copies without originals, in which 
“lookalikes” become the stars of the day. Within 


39 


this context, even Marcello Mastroianni and Giu- 
lietta Masina become “lookalikes” — allusions to 
their prior roles in Fellini films. The remark which 
a woman presumably addresses to Fellini at the be- 
ginning of City of Women would, with the addition 
of Giulietta’s name, well apply here: “Marcello yet 
again? Please maestro.” 

“Fellini yet again?” could be the epigraph for 
Intervista, as Fellini functions not as a “real per- 
son” or even an “auteur” so much as a reproduc- 
tion. He appears as the recycled product of his own 
films of forty years, of “memories” which exist 
only as cinematic representations, of the history of 
cinema, of the music of Nino Rota, of Cinecitta. 
Living in a world of reproduction, Fellini can be 
replaced as director. Mastroianni, dressed as Man- 
drake the Magician, “creates” the Trevi fountain 
scene in La Dolce Vita, making it appear on a 
makeshift screen in Anita Ekberg’s house. As this 
sequence suggests, Fellini’s relationship to his re- 
created memories and (other) staged fantasies is 
hardly simple or consistent. Not only is he not al- 
ways positioned as their author, but often (as with 
Marcello and his dream in City of Women) he ap- 
pears generated out of them. Despite the seeming 
centrality of Fellini, his subjectivity is, for the most 
part, a series of momentary configurations forming 
and dissolving across a grid of cinematic quotations 
from Fellini’s and Cinecitta’s cinematic history. ‘ 

Turning to 8 1/2, we initially seem to have a 
story of individuation along the lines of The Nights 
of Cabiria/ The film begins with Guido’s literal 
and figurative awakening and with his acquisition 
of identity: his body and face gradually emerge 
from beneath bedclothes and robe, and he moves 
to the bathroom to discover himself in the mirror. 
Much of the remainder of the film traces the expan- 
sion of Guido’s identity, awareness, control, and 
inventiveness as he moves from dreams (uncon- 
scious hence uncontrolled by Guido as conscious 
subject) to memories (conscious but merely recol- 
lective) to visions (conscious and creative). He also 
becomes more responsible, more accountable to 
himself and to others. The final scene, in which his 
lifetime companions join him in the circus arena, 
can be seen as a moment of integration. 

However, 8 1/2 centers Guido only in order to 
disperse him. The more aware Guido becomes. 


the more he must face his own confusion and in- 
stability. Moreover, though he appears to develop 
the capacity to create his own reality — as in the 
harem sequence and the screen tests — his visions 
turn against him, revealing that his desire to con- 
trol reality is a fundamental limitation. He is, in 
fact, stripped of his authorship. By the end of the 
harem sequence, he is positioned as spectator not 
creator, and he is severely troubled by the image 
and voice of Luisa which comprise the spectacle. 
At the screen tests he is confronted by his direc- 
torial follies, reduced again to a spectator, and 
helpless to make any decisions about his film. 

Not only does Guido acquire a certain measure 
of authority only to lose it, he undergoes a multipli- 
cation of identities that radically de-centers him. At 
the screen tests there are at least four Guidos: the 
director who created the test footage, the director- 
actor whom we see on screen, and the spectator who 
himself is divided in two: the “ideal” Guido who 
whispers “I love you” to Luisa, and the “real” 
Guido who “lies with every breath” (the words of 
an actress playing Luisa onscreen, which appropri- 
ately describe Guido-as-unfaithful-husband). 

The de-authorization and splitting of Guido 
leads to a crucial loss of subjectivity in the press con- 
ference vision that follows upon the screen tests. He 
has just renounced his film to Claudia Cardinale 
when the vision suddenly erupts. It is not, however, 
attributed to Guido. In fact, the point-of-view cod- 
ing (close-up of Guido, memory or fantasy, return 
to Guido) which has characterized earlier imagina- 
tive sequences is pointedly sabotaged. The vision is 
preceded with a close-up not of Guido but of Car- 
dinale (first in darkness, then suddenly illuminated 
by the headlights of a car). This not only eliminates 
Guido as source, it eliminates subjective origin al- 
together by offering the impossible: Claudia as 
author. The film then cuts to a relatively long shot 
of Guido (with Claudia), turning and shielding 
himself with his hat. Guido is presented only as the 
target, not as the creator, of this eruption. And, of 
course, the lengthy vision does not conclude with 
any (re)establishing close-up of Guido. 

Guido does not just passively suffer loss of 
author-ity and subject-hood. In renouncing his 
film, he begins contributing actively to the process. 
He effectively kills off his film’s “hero” who has 
become a surrogate self. (His hero in effect fails 


40 



him, creating a complex mirroring effect: Fellini 
has trouble making a film about a character who 
has trouble making a film about a character who 
cannot sustain the role of hero.)* Then, at the press 
conference, Guido kills himself off more directly 
(though still symbolically): climbing under a table, 
putting a gun to his head, and pulling the trigger. 
Then, in the final vision/sequence, he dies by im- 
mersion or absorption. In so doing, he recapitulates 
the loss of subjectivity that is so crucial to the film 
as a whole. Though Guido is placed at the origin 
of the final vision through a medium close-up, he 
quickly moves from subject to object as he enters 
the circus ring and becomes a character (“the direc- 
tor”). He then surrenders his role as director, join- 
ing Luisa and the circle of lifetime companions in 
a dance of death as well as reunion. Finally, he dis- 
appears — as does the child-in-white (another sur- 
rogate Guido) who briefly replaces him in the circus 
arena. By the end of this vision — which is also the 
end of the film — there is no Guido for the camera 
to return to. In fact, there is no subjective source 
of anything. 

This reading is strongly at odds with prevailing 
critical opinion of subjectivity in 8 1/2. In Reflex- 
ivity in Film and Literature Robert Stam maintains: 
“The most striking feature of 8 1/2 ... is the ab- 
solute centrality of Guido. . . . There is virtually 
no sequence . . . which Guido does not dominate” 
(104). And, in Point of View in the Cinema, Ed- 
ward Branigan insists that “Fellini’s 8 1/2 ... de- 
spite a startling, even virtuoso mixture of fantasy 
and reality, remains committed to the assumptions 
of traditional subjective narration” because it 
“finds its center in a single character or, more ex- 
actly, the consciousness of a character” (143, 144). 
While Stam’s discussion of 5 7/2 is brief, Brani- 
gan’s is carefully argued and merits a response. 

Branigan bases much of his reading on scenes 
early in the film when Guido is, indeed, developing 
consciousness and point of view (146-47, 151-52). 
He chooses as his quintessential example of 8 1/2’ s 
“activity of narration” a moment that occurs less 
than half way through the film (163-64). In over- 
determining the early scenes, Branigan fails to ac- 
count for narrative progression — especially Guido’s 
loss of authority towards the film’s end. For this 
reason, he merely dismisses the increasing fragmen- 
tation and multiplication of identities: “It is impor- 



81/2 


tant . . . not to overstate the plurality achieved in 
8 1/2” (152). Moreover, he fails to note the rup- 
ture of point-of-view coding in the press conference 
sequence — a fact which is quite surprising given his 
scrupulous attention to such coding when Guido 
fantasizes the hanging of Daumier a few minutes 
earlier in the film. 

Branigan also fails to attend to the construction 
and dissolution of subjectivity in the final sequence. 
In fact, he abandons his close reading of cinematic 
technique altogether. Instead, he posits an elabo- 
rate “semantic square” to argue that 8 1/2 ends in 
a “pc»5<Y/ve transcendence” which “presents Art as 
the ultimate mediation between reality and fantasy” 
and a “resolution on a ‘higher’ plane of reality.” 
Art “is offered as that term which is not limited by 
time, history or social condition. Through Art the 
text asserts its immortality.” Through this tran- 
scendence “the confusion of reality is reconciled 
with the private meaning of Guido’s fantasies. . . . 
Thus the film becomes, crucially, a working out of 
the precise status of the author with respect to real- 
ity, imagination, text, subject (consciousness), and 
the other terms” (161). ** 

Branigan’s discussion is not only mystifying 
(especially in terms of his earlier treatment of the 
film), it entails a telling contradiction. Given his 
own insistence that Art becomes the encompass- 
ing term under which all else is subsumed, Brani- 
gan cannot logically claim that the film is equally 
“a working out of the precise status of the author 
. . . .” Capital A Art and an individual artist are 
two quite different things, with the latter clearly 


41 


subordinate to the former. What Branigan appears 
to be doing is seeking a term (Art) which enables 
him to resurrect the artist (Guido) despite the ar- 
tist’s obvious demise. Branigan’s strategy actually 
confirms the fact that, by the end, Guido (the sub- 
ject/author) is gone — and something (or perhaps 
nothing) else has taken his place. 

Finally, in failing to trace the crucial shifts that 
occur in the final sequences of the film, Branigan 
remains tied to the assumption of a stable ground 
for Guido’s subjectivity: 

the text never stops making sense with respect 
to a ‘reality.’ We know, for instance, that 
Guido is having trouble with his wife, that he 
has a mistress, that he is attempting to make 
a film, and so forth. The origin of the unreal 
is always located in Guido and referenced to 
a privileged, non-subjective level of narration 
which is, exactly, reality for the text. . . . (52) 
This assumption refuses to acknowledge, among 
other things, that Guido’s mistress never appears 
as a “real” person once the harem sequence begins 
(45 minutes before the film concludes), the real 
Luisa never reappears after telling Guido to go to 
hell at the screen tests, and the film is abandoned. 
Also ignored is the fact that the press conference 
and the concluding sequence function precisely to 
strip away both the “privileged . . . reality” Brani- 
gan insists upon and any equally privileged subjec- 
tivity which both grounds and is grounded by such 
reality. In short, though Branigan does an excellent 
job detailing the individuating and grounding as- 
pects of 8 1/2, he is unable to account for its post- 
individuating aspects. 

In terms of jettisoning the individual, Fellini’s 
next film, Juliet of the Spirits, is both an advance 
and a retreat. On the one hand, Juliet is fragmented 
into far more pieces than Guido. As the film’s title 
suggests, she is a product of the many (all her spir- 
its) rather than the one. Her subjectivity is, in 
short, fundamentally decentered. However, as in 
The Nights of Cabiria, the thrust of the film is to 
integrate the many into the one. (This is reflected 
in Fellini’s claim that Juliet is forced “to find her- 
self, to seek her free identity as an individual. And 
this gives her the insight to realize that all the fears 
— the phantoms that lived around her — were mon- 
sters of her own creation, bred of misshapen edu- 
cation and misread religion” — Fellini, Playboy 62). 


It is a relatively simple task to deconstruct this 
attempted reintegration. First of all, Juliet’s “one- 
ness” could never exist without her multiplicity — a 
fact suggested even at film’s end when her spirits 
assert their ever presence.'" Second, she has become 
one or “self-identical” through a series of negations 
— rejecting (among other things) Bhisma, Suzy, 
Jose, the Godson, the image of her mother, and 
in fact her tormenting spirits. Based on a series of 
denials, her identity of self-presence is thus con- 
structed out of absences, non-identities. Third, 
Juliet exists only because she is seen, and in effect 
made visible, by her principal “spirits”: the camera 
eye, and, by extension, us-the-audience. (We and the 
camera waft in through the trees, spirit-like, at the 
beginning of the film, and she looks us directly in 
the eye, acknowledging our presence as “spirits,” 
at the end.) Finally, the Juliet who walks off into 
the forest at the end is “contaminated” by cultural 
significations. She is, among other things, a princess 
in a fairy tale and a virgin/child. Her “individual- 
ity” is hardly indivisible. It is multiply intersected 
by socially produced and determined meanings. 

However, while the subject can be decon- 
structed, we must do the work — in effect against 
the will of the film. For that reason, Juliet of the 
Spirits functions more as an anomaly at this point 
in Fellini’s career — and as a throw-back to earlier 
films. 

Fellini’s next film, “Toby Dammit” (1968)" 
takes an issue, death, that was principally subtex- 
tual and metaphoric in 8 1/2 and makes it the 
(missing) center of its story. (Fellini had suffered 
a serious illness prior to the making of the film and 
had also been involved in an unsuccessful project — 
“The Voyage of G. Mastorna” — which focused on 
death.) In fact “Toby Dammit” is a film par ex- 
cellence of the “dead subject” and dead author. 
Toby’s past-tense voice-over at the beginning, plus 
his “death” at the end, make clear that he speaks 
from beyond the grave. That makes his signature at 
the beginning, written against the sky, the signature 
of a ghost or missing person. Identity becomes 
merely the citing/site-ing/sighting of its absence.'" 

More concretely, the film makes clear that 
Toby must renounce identity and subjectivity, since 
both are entirely constituted by society. As an ac- 
tor (the film’s most pervasive metaphor), Toby is 
“identified” only in roles created by other people — 


42 


and only by speaking other people’s words. 

Toby’s existence solely as a culturally inscribed 
actor is implicit in the fact that he originates in fic- 
tion — a short story by Edgar Allan Poe (“Never 
Bet the Devil Your Head’’). It is reinforced by his 
resemblance — sartorial and facial — to Poe himself. 
(Fellini deliberately had Terence Stamp made up to 
look like Poe.) It is exemplified in his impersonation 
of Macbeth — not only reciting Macbeth’s lines but 
losing his head. It is present even in the fact that his 
name is not personal but metaphoric, naming not 
an individual but a set of culturally coded mean- 
ings. Finally, it pervades Toby’s very psychology: 
socially constructed oppositions (dark vs. light, sal- 
vation vs. damnation, head vs. body, private vs. 
professional) in which the most “personal’’ of 
Toby’s weapons — the Devil — is, though tailored to 
Toby’s bizarre tastes, a consummate cultural cliche. 

Toby’s paradoxical fate — to be by not being — 
informs his end and that of the film. Driving his 
Ferrari, Toby makes an impossible leap across an 
abyss — but we hear and see no crash. There is no 
corpse. Instead, there are metonymic substitutes for 
his death: a bloody rope (quite dissociated from the 
scene of the supposed accident), a waxen replica of 
his head. Toby, in short, dies and does not die, a 
fact underscored by his beyond-the-grave narra- 
tion. Indeed Toby remains, but now only as the 
film that bears his name. He is gone as subject and 
as author. With this final displacement, identity is 
again undermined as anything individual, indivis- 
ible, and unique. It is dispersed throughout a text 
that is consummately reproducible — via new prints, 
new screenings, re-viewings, etc. Moreover, as a 
text within a photographic medium, it is properly 
reproducible only through its negative. Medium, 
character, and story all come together to assert 
identity and selfhood only under erasure. 

The erasure of character/actor/subject recurs 
in Fellini-Satyricon (1969), partly as a result of Fel- 
lini’s continued emphasis on gaps and absences: “I 
reread Petronius and was fascinated by an element 
I had not noticed before: the missing parts; that is, 
the blanks between one episode and the next. . . . 
that business of fragments really fascinated me’’ 
(Grazzini 171-72).'^ The effacement of the subject 
recurs also as the result of Fellini’s repudiation of 
character and acting in Fellini: A Director’s Note- 
book (1968), a short film made between “Toby 


Dammit’’ and Fellini-Satyricon. The motivating 
force of Director’s Notebook is the evasiveness, the 
nonmaterialization, of a hero or main character. 
The film begins with Fellini discussing his abandon- 
ment of a project, “The Voyage of G. Mastorna,’’ 
because Mastorna “has not arrived yet.’”'* This in 
turn leads to an examination of the inadequacy of 
Marcello Mastroianni, and to some extent Giulietta 
Masina, as stimuli to Fellini, because of their his- 
tory as well-defined actor/characters within Fel- 
lini’s films (see Foreman, “Poor Player’’; Prats 
and Pieters). Acting itself is clearly critiqued in the 
appearance of Caterina Baratto and her dreadful 
attempts to portray a bloodthirsty Roman matron. 
The problem of character /acting then leads Fellini 
to a new strategy, a new kind of film-making, im- 
portant not only for Director’s Notebook but for 
all his films through Amarcord: he seeks out un- 
professional actors with intriguing and appropri- 
ate faces in place of the familiar personae and skills 
of trained actors. He chooses, in short, a cinema 
of image or surface over one of character and 
depth. This leads directly to Fellini-Satyricon, not 
only with its cast of unknowns, but with its use of 
the fresco as its principal visual “unit.’’ 

(Fellini’s search for unique and fresh faces is, 
of course, at odds with the self-reflexive use and 
re-use of Mastroianni, Masina, Ekberg, and him- 
self in his most recent films. The former suggests 
a lingering romantic/modernist quest for novelty 
and originality as the wellsprings of inspiration — 
hence a lingering faith in the integrity of artistic cre- 
ation. The latter reflects a postmodernist acknowl- 
edgement of repetition, reproduction, citation — the 
“always already’’ — as the inescapable condition of 
de/creation. Thus Fellini’s rejection of actor/char- 
acter/predefined subject contributes to the erasure 
of unified subjectivity while at the same time re- 
maining invested in it.) 

Fellini’s new conception of casting and (de)char- 
acterization is immediately reflected in Satyricon’s 
Encolpio. In my experience, most people who have 
seen Fellini-Satyricon for the first time have re- 
mained unaware that the film has a protagonist of 
any sort. Encolpio is hardly a central character in 
the way that Guido, Juliet, and Toby were. Like 
the cracked frescoes and broken statues that litter 
Satyricon’s landscape, Encolpio is a fragment, re- 
lating to other events and characters, as well as the 


43 



Fellini Satyricon: Encolpio is in short dark tunic. 


audience, only at the jagged edge of (dis)connec- 
tion. The narrative itself is a series of fragments 
(dis)jointed at their rough edges — narrative, in 
short, in absentia: “the potsherds, crumbs, and 
dust of a vanished world” (Fellini, Satyricon 46). 
Encolpio’ s capacity to narrate (and even articulate) 
comes and goes, reflecting the fracturing of indi- 
vidual intelligence. He even disappears at times, re- 
maining absent from crucial events such as the 
suicide of the patricians. 

Encolpio, like Toby, is a fictional reproduction 
(originating in Petronius as Toby originated in 
Poe). In reproducing him, Fellini jettisons his con- 
ventional underpinnings of character: depth or 
“growth” psychology, Christian symbolism, hu- 
manist ethics and values, and the teleology of mo- 
tive and goal. Far more than Toby, Encolpio is 
pure fictional cipher, adrift in a flow of arbitrary 
narrative which itself is adrift in the arbitrary flow 
of historical, political, and social change. 

At film’s end, though Encolpio seems momen- 
tarily to emerge as a unifying voice, he is confirmed 
and preserved in a state of fragmentation. He be- 
gins to narrate his itinerary upon setting sail, only 
to have his words broken off in mid-sentence. His 
image turns into a cracked fresco which itself is 
separated by cracks from other figures on the same 
fresco. Then, as the camera draws back, the fresco 
is revealed to be only one fragment among several. 
The solid wall which opened the film has been fis- 
sured and, with it, unity and wholeness on every 


level — from the narrative to the historical to the 
individual. 

The Clowns (1970) seems initially to reinstate 
character and subjectivity with a vengeance by situ- 
ating Fellini himself as first-person narrator and 
protagonist. Yet, like 8 1/2 and “Toby Dammit” 
(and unlike Director’s Notebook, to which it is par- 
tially indebted) The Clowns ends up being far more 
about the death of the author/subject than about 
his(her) predominance. In killing Fellini off as au- 
teur, The Clowns radically repositions Fellini in 
relation to his work — putting him at least in quo- 
tation marks and at most under erasure. 

The Clowns reinstitutes a kind of autobiograph- 
ical problematic that marks much of Fellini’s ear- 
lier work. Though films such as / Vitelloni, La 
Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, and Amarcord are superficially 
autobiographical, they open broad gaps between 
Fellini and his past. / Vitelloni is set in a town rem- 
iniscent of Fellini’s own Rimini and features one 
character, Moraldo, who gets out at the end. How- 
ever, the differences between the world of the film 
and Fellini’s past are far greater than the similarities. 
The vitelloni are products of a specific economic 
and cultural moment (postwar provincial Italy of 
the 1950s) which has little in common with Fellini’s 
youth. More important, Moraldo, as his name sug- 
gests, represents the morality or mores of the prov- 
inces — something with which Fellini himself would 
hardly identify.'* And his alienated escape at the 
end has little in common with Fellini’s move from 
the provinces to Rome. (See Alpert 30ff.) Marcello 
of La Dolce Vita is, like Fellini, a provincial who 
made it to the city— hence Moraldo’s presumed fic- 
tional heir. He is, however, a jaded yellow journal- 
ist who is even further distanced from Fellini than 
was Moraldo. He mirrors the latter both in para- 
lyzed detachment and ultimate disillusionment, and 
his story represents an exhaustive study in character 
fragmentation. In short, he proves highly unsuit- 
able for any kind of Fellinian working through of 
genuinely autobiographical issues.'* 

8 1/2 and Amarcord seem initially to be much 
more promising in terms of autobiography, the 
former because of its protagonist, the latter because 
of its historical setting. However, the effacement 
of the Fellini surrogate in the first and the pointed 
absence of one in the second eliminate the ground- 
ing upon which genuine autobiography depends. 


44 



Such grounding is not lacking in two strongly 
autobiographical Fellini scripts that have recently 
been published: “Moraldo in the City” and “Jour- 
ney with Anita” (Stubbs; Alpert 36-40, 118-21). 
However, the fact that Fellini never realized these 
projects seems to confirm an unwillingness or in- 
capacity on his part to use autobiography in any- 
thing other than distanciating and deconstructive 
ways. This conjoining of autobiography and (self)- 
deconstruction is precisely the kind of autobio- 
graphical problematic that informs The Clowns. 

The opening segment introduces character and 
subjectivity as far more the product than the pro- 
ducer of experience. Fellini as a child enters a circus 
arena and is, in effect, refashioned — turned into a 
clown. (The film’s title clearly includes Fellini, 
along with everyone else in the movie.) More spe- 
cifically, Fellini-the-child’s initial fear of clowns, 
especially the rowdy “Augustes,” turns him into a 
“White Clown” (the authoritarian figure in the 
White Clown-Auguste relationship), who seeks to 
contemplate, understand, hence control his circus 
experience (Burke, “Clowns”). It is Fellini-the- 
White Clown who, as an adult, seeks to document 
the clown. 

The subject is not only constructed (rather than 
pristine, autonomous) in The Clowns, it is cultur- 
ally coded — since what refashions the young Fellini 
is an art form with a long tradition and a well- 
defined logic or ideational apparatus (i.e., the 
White Clown-Auguste dialectic). This emphasis on 
the precoded confirms a shift in Fellini’s films from 
“original” stories to the reproduction of other sto- 
ries, other art (Poe/Shakespeare in “Toby Dam- 
mit,” Petronius in Fellini-Satyricon, now the art of 
the clown). Fellini’s increasing acknowledgement 
of reproduction (vs. creation) becomes, in turn, the 
basis (as I have already suggested) for his decon- 
struction of subjectivity and authority in his most 
recent work. 

The problem of author/subject in The Clowns 
is defined principally in terms of Fellini’s attempts 
to make a documentary — i.e., to appropriate (as 
unified and autonomous subject) the clowns (as ob- 
ject and “other”). However, Fellini is no more suc- 
cessful in imposing his directorial will than was 
Guido. The documentary fails, and a different kind 
of filmic process takes its place. Even moreso than 
with Guido, creative experience happens to and 


around Fellini rather than originating within him. 
And just as Fellini-the-child was constructed by the 
clown/circus discourse (rather than vice versa), Fel- 
lini the adult becomes constructed within fictional/ 
narrative discourse rather than standing outside it 
(Burke, “Clowns”', Prats). 

Like 8 1/2, The Clowns concludes with a ser- 
ies of authorial deaths and effacements. First of all, 
Fellini must abandon his role as documentary film- 
maker — his principal role in the film. Then, as he 
directs a different kind of film (an extravagant 
“resurrection” of the clown Fischietto), he gets a 
bucket over his head. Moreover, the resurrection 
attempt is mechanical and labored — and is fol- 
lowed by a hollow sense of anticlimax. Most im- 
portant, Fellini, like Guido, ultimately disappears. 
In the final moments, an old clown (Fumigalli) as- 
sumes Fellini’s narrative authority, resurrects the 
clown much more successfully, and brings The 
Clowns to a close. 

Storytelling in The Clowns thus ends up occur- 
ring through erasure and substitution, making nar- 
rative fortuitous and fragmentary. At the same 
time, the grand controlling author is eliminated — 
not just in the surrogate guise of a Guido — but in 
the person of Fellini, the “grand romantic artist,” 
himself. 

Though The Clowns ultimately does in the 
author-as-subject, Fellini’s presence as director 
is dominant until the very last moments. Also, 
through voiceover, Fellini-as-adult is made clearly 
continuous with Fellini-as-child in terms not only of 
identity but motivation. (Fellini-the-adult’s desire 
to document clowns is clearly rooted in Fellini-the- 
child’s experiences.) In this sense, characterization 
in The Clowns is more stable than in “Toby Dam- 
mit” or Satyricon. Roma, on the other hand, con- 
sistently undermines continuity and stability. In its 
original conception, Roma had virtually no voice- 
over: the screenplay includes only one brief instance 
of Fellini addressing the viewer (Fellini, Roma 272), 
and a theatrical print I saw in Rome (spring 1983) 
was true to the screenplay. (Some narration appears 
to have been added to prints shown on Italian tele- 
vision circa 1983.) Furthermore, neither the screen- 
play nor the Italian-language versions I have seen 
make any positive identification as Fellini of either 
the child at the beginning or the young adult in 
Rome of the 1930s. No narrative voice or charac- 


45 


ter ever designates the child or the young adult as 
Fellini. (The screenplay is insistent on referring to 
the young adult only as “il ragazzo” — the boy or 
young man — even when it would be much simpler 
for purposes of both simple reference and clarity 
to refer to him as young Fellini.) 

Even in the English-language version, which 
contains voice-over material requested by United 
Artists,’’ Roma cannot help but undermine the con- 
sistency of Fellini’s presence. The narrative voice 
is not Fellini’s. There is still no designation of the 
child or young adult as Fellini. (The closest we get 
is the narrator’s statement, following the young 
adult’s first day in Rome: “Thirty years or more 
have passed since that fabulous evening’’ — which 
still keeps the connection oblique.) Both child and 
young adult are missing from many scenes which, 
in a conventional flashback-narrative, would have 
been justified narratively only by their presence or 
point of view. {Roma again differs sharply from 
The Clowns.) And the young adult is played by a 
Spanish-American actor (Peter Gonzalez) whose 
origins, native tongue, look, and American man- 
nerisms enhance the distance between Fellini as an 
adult and any possible earlier manifestation. (In- 
cidentally, the circumstances of this figure’s arrival 
in Rome are markedly different from Fellini’s own 
— Alpert, 29ff.) 

In short, though we may be inclined to assume 
a link between contemporary and younger Fellinis, 
the film itself refuses to forge one. Fellini refuses 
to materialize as a coherent and continuous per- 
sona, and as a result, “he” is at best an inference, 
scattered among a number of subject positions. 

In addition, even the Fellini of the 1970s is 
barely in evidence. There is no establishing scene 
to define his documentary motives and purpose, as 
there was in The Clowns. After Fellini is shown di- 
recting the film crew’s entry into Rome (a sequence 
which, tellingly, ends in chaos), he is absent for 
most of the film’s remaining sequences. Even when 
he reappears at the Festa di Noantri, he is barely 
noticeable among the crowds, and Gore Vidal’s in- 
terview is initiated not by Fellini but by one of his 
crew. The only time he becomes insistent in this 
final scene (with Anna Magnani), he is dismissed 
(“Go to sleep. ... I don’t trust you. . . . Good 
night.”) 

As in The Clowns, documentary film-making, 
as a centering, author-ized, project fails; even the 


documentary camera is stolen. And, again, Fellini 
is effaced at the end. Once Magnani dismisses him, 
a gang of motorcyclists rides into the frame, Fellini 
vanishes, and the cyclists bring the film to a close. 

Even more than in The Clowns, Fellini exists 
as someone constructed entirely within cultural 
coding. For one thing, there is no Fellini figure who 
initially stands outside the “arena” of cultural con- 
ditioning (the child in The Clowns watched the 
erection of the circus tent from his window the 
night before he entered it). From the outset, Fel- 
lini is entirely positioned within and produced by 
the multiple discourses that are “Roma.” This is 
true even if we infer a link between present-day Fel- 
lini and the child of the opening sequences, who 
first appears in uniform, amidst a crowd of stu- 
dents, getting a history lecture on Caesar. It is even 
truer if we refuse to infer this link — and see Fellini 
produced well into the narrative by discourse itself. 

Unlike “the clowns,” “Roma” does not con- 
stitute a highly specific personal experience such as 
Fellini’s childhood encounter with the circus. Rome 
encompasses history, culture, ethnicity, religion, 
art, movies, government, geography, and so on ad 
infinitum. Consequently, individuality and subjec- 
tivity are situated at the intersection of an enor- 
mous aggregate of discourses. 

Equally important, Rome is anything but a cen- 
tering phenomenon, capable of fixing identity. It 
is ever-shifting, unencompassable, indefinable. It 
comes to represent not a place or even site of dis- 
courses, but always what is not there. (This is true 
from the opening image of the rock, signifying 
“elsewhere,” through the closing images of the cy- 
clists, whose exodus again makes Rome “else- 
where.”) Ultimately Rome is the force of change 
or difference, making history or meaning possible 
but also riddling it with instability. It is the surge 
of the present in the subway sequence that obliter- 
ates the underground frescoes — but at the same 
time, creates a tabula rasa on which anything can 
be painted. Rome is also the inexplicable materiali- 
zation of the cyclists: impersonal, empowered, irre- 
sistible — configuring and dispersing, centering and 
decentering — origin and destination unknown. Ul- 
timately Rome “names” that which is unnameable, 
all that escapes identification, hence identity.'* 

Roma's deconstruction of the subject/author 
culminates a process initiated in 8 1/2. It also 
points to the films that will follow {Amarcord to 


46 


Intervista). It takes up a notion implied in “Toby 
Dammit” and Fellini-Satyricon—ihQ self as mere 
reproduction — and paradoxically “personalizes” it 
by applying it to Fellini himself. (By applying it to 
himself rather than merely fictional figures, Fellini 
of course makes the issue all the more compelling.) 
Whereas The Clowns initially offers the possibility 
of a narrative “I” in charge of (re)creation and dis- 
course, Roma — by completely absenting that “I” 
— turns Fellini into pure product. Not only is he 
reproduced by the multiple discourses that are 
“Roma,” he is entirely a product of cinema. He is 
always and only the discourse(s) of his film. Un- 
able to stand outside and create the text, he, like 
Toby, is dispersed through and by it. In an age and 
medium of mechanical reproduction, Fellini, the 
“original,” ends up generated by the copy. 

The dismantling of the subject, and Fellini him- 
self as subject, does not automatically absolve Fel- 
lini’s work from the charges of self-indulgence so 
often levied against it. To a large extent, his films 
must center the subject in order to decenter it. 
Moreover, their self-reflexivity can be seen as an at- 
tempt at recuperation of selfhood in the face of its 
acknowledged demise. Nonetheless, the issue of 
subjectivity in his work is far more complex than 
has generally been recognized. Focusing much less 
on Fellini himself than his severest critics would 
claim, Fellini’s films not only reflect but help con- 
stitute the vibrant contemporary theorization of the 
subject under erasure. 


Notes 


1 . I am relying on recollection, the index, and a recent check 
of Movies and Methods I and II. Narrative, Apparatus, 
Ideology lacks an index, so I am relying here on recollec- 
tion plus a check. 

2. For a more detailed analysis of this “narrative of individ- 
uation,” see Burke, Federico Fellini, especially chapters 
eight and ten, 

I employ qualifying terms such as “apparently” and 
“seems” in my remarks about The Nights of Cahiria be- 
cause of the convincing poststructuralist critique of such 
notions as individuation, enlightenment, and self-integra- 
tion (a critique which, I might add, is missing from my 
own study of Fellini cited in this note). It is not my goal 
in this essay to undertake such a critique with regard to 
The Nights of Cabiria, especially since my discussion of 
Fellini’s later films implicitly does this job. 

3. The quotations about individuality are from an interview 
which focused equally on 8 1/2 and Juliet of the Spirits. 


Perhaps Fellini’s most frequently quoted statement on the 
subject was uttered in 1962, the year Fellini was making 
8 1/2: “. . . what I care about most is the freedom of 
man, the liberation of the individual man from the net- 
work of moral and social convention in which he believes, 
or rather in which he thinks he believes, and which en- 
closes him and limits him. ...” (Fellini, Fellini 157) It 
is interesting to note the utter lack of emphasis on individ- 
uality in Fellini’s 1980s book-length interview (Grazzini). 

4. Consistent with his problematizing of the subject in Amar- 
cord, Fellini has both maintained that “amarcord” means 
“I remember’ and, on other occasions, denied it. 

5. Fred Astaire was born Frederick Austerlitz; Ginger 
Rogers, Virginia Catherine McMath. 

6. Appropriately, there is no author implied in the film’s 
title: Intervista is a noun, not a verb with a subject. 

7. For a more extensive discussion of the consolidation 
and dissolution of Guido’s identity in 8 1/2, see Burke, 
“Modes.” 

Interestingly, as we examine Fellini’s comments about 
preparing for this film, we find an immediate problem 
with the identity of the main character: “I had not yet de- 
cided what type of man we would try to portray, what his 
profession would be: a lawyer? an engineer? a journalist? 

. . . One day I decided to put my dream hero in a spa 
.... But then the plot began to unravel altogether. It 
didn’t have a central core from which to develop, nor a 
beginning, nor could I imagine how it might end. Every 
morning Pinelli asked me what our hero’s profession was. 
I still didn’t know. . . . I . . . couldn’t manage to find 
my film again. ... I admitted that maybe it had never 
existed.” (Grazzini 160, 161) We might say, then, that 
Fellini’s attempts to make 8 1/2 mark the search for a 
missing identity. 

8. Christian Metz has, of course, analyzed the mirroring 
aspects of 8 1/2 in great detail in his well known essay 
“Mirror Construction in Fellini’s 8 1/2.'' 

9. I have somewhat rearranged the order of Branigan’s state- 
ments to provide a concise summary of his logic. 

10. In English-language prints, Juliet tells her spirits “I don’t 
need you any more” — an act of dismissal that is not part 
of the original film. 

11. For those unfamiliar with this short Fellini work, “Toby 
Dammit” was part of a film anthology entitled Spirits of 
the Dead {Tre passi nel delirio in Italian), released in 1969. 
All the films were based on short stories by Edgar Allan 
Poe. The other directors involved were Roger Vadim 
(“Metzengerstein”) and Louis Malle (“William Wil- 
son”). Though not as well known as other Fellini films 
from this period, “Toby Dammit” is crucial in highlight- 
ing shifts in Fellini’s signifying practice. 

12. For a penetrating analysis of “Toby Dammit” — and one 
quite consistent with the argument in my essay — see Fore- 
man, “Poor Player.” 

13. Fellini also talks of making the fragments whole through 
dream, but as I will try to suggest, the effect of Fellini 
Satyricon is to privilege the fragment, not the whole. 

14. Mastorna’s role as inspiration for Fellini throughout the 
late sixties and seventies is further testimony to the im- 
portance of the “missing subject” in Fellini’s work. (“I 
am certain that without Mastorna I would not have imag- 


47 


ined Satyricon . . . nor Casanova nor the City of Women 
.... Even And the Ship Sails On and The Orchestra Re- 
hearsal owe a small debt to Mastorna '" — Grazzini 169). 

15. See Burke, Federico Fellini, pp. 21-28 for a more detailed 
analysis of / Vitelloni and Moraldo. 

16. La Dolce Vita initially seems interesting in terms of the 
dismantling of the subject that occurs in later Fellini 
films. However, as the final shots of the film make clear, 
that dismantling takes place in light of a strong romantic 
yearning for purity and wholeness. Such yearning is 
strongly diminished even by the making of 8 1/2, 

17. So Fellini informed me in a conversation in Rome in June 
of 1983. 

18. For a fine analysis of Roma which makes some of the 
points made here, see Foreman, “Cinematic City.” 

19. For much of the factual information that follows, I am 
indebted to Alpert — less for providing it (nearly all of 
it pre-exists his biography of Fellini) but for verifying 
its accuracy, since so much of it initially appeared in 
interviews. 

20. It is also interesting to note that, as the subject begins to 
dissolve in the film text, it is momentarily recuperated 
by the credits. The phrase “conceived and directed by 
Federico Fellini” appears for the first time in the titles to 
8 1/2. The only other time it appears is in Juliet of the 
Spirits, accentuating yet again the ambivalence toward the 
subject at this stage of Fellini’s work. 

Works Cited 


Alpert, Hollis. Fellini: A Life, New York: Atheneum, 1986. 

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image Music 
Text. Ed. and trans. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana, 
1977. 142-48. 

Bazin, Andre. ''La Strada.'' Esprit. 5 (1955). 

Branigan, Edward. Point of View in the Cinema: A Theory 
of Narration and Subjectivity in Classical Film. New 
York: Mouton, 1984. 

Burke, Frank. Federico Fellini'. Variety Lights to La Dolce 
Vita. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984. 

. “Modes of Narration and Spiritual Development in 

Fellini’s 8 1/2.'' Literature /Film Quarterly. 14.3 (1986): 
164-70. 

. “The Three-Phase Process and the White Clown- 

Auguste Relationship in Fellini’s The Clowns." Lawton. 
124-42. 

Cahiers du cinema. “John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln," 223 
(1970): 29-47. 

Carroll, David, The Subject in Question: The Languages of 
Theory and the Strategies of Fiction. Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1982. 

Carroll, Noel. Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Con- 
temporary Film Theory. New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1988. 

Crimp, Douglas. “On the Museum’s Ruins.” Hal Foster, ed. 
The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Port 
Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983. 43-56. 

Eckert, Charles. “The English Cine-structuralists.” Film 
Comment. 9.3 (1973); 46-51. 

Fellini, Federico. Fellini On Fellini. Trans. Isabel Quigley. 
New York: Delacorte/Lawrence, 1976. 


. Fellini's Satyricon. Ed, Dario Zanelli. Trans. Eugene 

Walter and John Matthews. New York: Ballantine, 1970. 

. "Playboy Interview: Federico Fellini.” XIII (Febru- 
ary 1966): 55-66. 

. Roma di Federico Fellini. A cura di Bernardino Zap- 

poni. Bologna: Capelli, 1972. 

Foreman, Walter C,, Jr. “Fellini’s Cinematic City: Roma and 
Myths of Foundation.” Forum Italicum. 14.2 (1980): 
78-98. 

. “The Poor Player Struts Again: Fellini’s ‘Toby Dam- 
mit’ and the Death of the Actor.” Lawton. 111-23. 

Foucault, Michel. “What Is an Author?” Language, Counter- 
Memory, Practice. Trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry 
Simon. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. Ithaca: Cornell Univer- 
sity Press, 1977. 121-38. Rpt. in The Foucault Reader. 
Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 1984. 101-20. 

Grazzini, Giovanni. Federico Fellini: Comments on Film. 
Trans. Joseph Henry. Fresno: California State University 
Press, 1988. 

Heath, Stephen. “Comment on ‘The Idea of Authorship.’ ” 
Screen. 14.3 (1973): 86-91. 

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, The- 
ory, Fiction. New York and London: Routledge, 1988. 

Huyssen, Andreas. After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass 
Culture, Postmodernism. Bloomington: Indiana Univer- 
sity Press, 1986. 

Kolker, Robert Phillip. The Altering Eye: Contemporary In- 
ternational Cinema. New York: Oxford University Press, 
1983. 

Lawton, Ben, ed. 1977 Film Studies Annual: Part I, Explo- 
rations in National Cinemas. Pleasantville, NY : Redg- 
rave, 1977. 

Metz, Christian. Film Language. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1974. 

Movies and Methods: An Anthology, Ed. Bill Nichols. 2 Vols. 
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978, 1985. 

Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader. Ed. 
Philip Rosen. New York: Columbia University Press, 
1987. 

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. Visconti. London: Seeker and War- 
burg. 1967, 1973. 

Prats, A. J. “An Art of Joy, An Art of Life: The Plasticity 
and Narrative Methods of The Clowns." Lawton. 143-60. 
Rev. as “Plasticity and Narrative Methods: The Clowns" 
and rpt. in A. J. Prats. The Autonomous Image: 
Cinematic Narration and Humanism. Lexington, KY: 
University of Kentucky Press, 1981. 122-157. 

Prats, A. J. and John Pieters. “The Narratives of Decharac- 
terization in Fellini’s Color Movies.” South Atlantic 
Bulletin. 45.2 (1980): 31-41. 

Sarris, Andrew. The American Cinema: Directors and Direc- 
tions: 1929-1968. New York: Dutton, 1968. 

. “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962.” Film Culture. 

27 (1962-63). 

Stam, Robert. Reflexivity in Film and Literature From Don 
Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard. Ann Arbor: University 
Microfilms Research Press, 1985. 

Stubbs, John. Ed. and trans. Moraldo in the City and A Jour- 
ney With Anita. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 
1983. 

Truffaut, Francois. “Un certaine tendance du cinema fran- 
cais.” Cahiers du cinema. 31 (1954). 


48 


http://www.jstor.org 


LINKED CITATIONS 

- Page 1 of 1 - 



STOR 


You have printed the following article: 

Fellini: Changing the Subject 

Frank Burke 

Film Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 1. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 36-48. 

Stable URL: 

http://links.istor.org/sici?sici=0015-1386%28198923%2943%3Al%3C36%3AFCTS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U 


This article references the following linked citations. If you are trying to access articles from an 
off-campus location, you may be required to first logon via your library web site to access JSTOR. Please 
visit your library's website or contact a librarian to learn about options for remote access to JSTOR. 

Works Cited 

The Narratives of Decharacterization in Fellini's Color Movies 

A. J. Prats; John Pieters 

South Atlantic Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 2. (May, 1980), pp. 31-41. 

Stable URL: 

http://links.istor.org/sici?sici=0038-2868%2819800.5%294.5%3A2%3C31%3ATNODIF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-O